KK Line Trip Report
by Vikas Chander
I returned last night from the KK line trip and here is a report.
A picture can tell a thousand words and for those who want to cut to the chase, check out the photos on the IRFCA gallery.
Day one - 3rd March, 2004
We arrived at Hyderabad by the evening IA flight and checked into a hotel .After dinner at Paradise proceeded to SCB station. The station was totally deserted and there was no traffic. Luckily a MMTS service rake was passing by and we got onto the cab. We did a short footplate to Sanatnagar to see if we could sight some WDG-4s. Must say the MMTS rakes are very clean with a nice spacious driver cabin. A single piece windscreen gave a nice panoramic view of the tracks ahead. The driver dropped us off at Sanatnagar station where we saw 2 WDG4s idling.What an awesome sight they made. Got pretty friendly with the crews but could not attempt a footplate as we were to catch the early morning flight to VSKP and could not risk a delay in coming back. Soon one of the DG4s left with a fully loaded coal rake. The acceleration was very quick and we got a first hand account of the brute force of these locos. By 1am we had had enough and headed back to the hotel.
Day two - 4th March, 2004
The flight was to leave at 730 am and we arrived at the airport by 630 am only to find out that the flight was rescheduled to 1250pm - 5 hours later. No worries!!! We headed off to Hyderabad station and watched the action there. The Chennai express came in headed by a WDP-4. After hanging around for an hour or so, we managed to get onto a light Wdm2 to Secunderabad station. The ride around the Hussain Sagar / Necklace road was quite interesting and we reached Secunderabad station in about 20 minutes. Quite a few WDP4s were hanging around and we took a lot of photographs. There was a shunting ramp made on the west side of the station which must have been quite expensive to make. A simple land fill would have done the trick rather than this over constructed ramp - maybe some HYD IRFCANS can shed some light on why this ramp was constructed in the first place. Soon it was departure time and we headed for the airport.Landed in VSKP and headed straight for the Maripellam Electric Loco shed. We encountered a lot of security and bureaucracy at this shed. We were asked not to take any photographs, in spite of the permit we carried. A few calls later better sense prevailed and we were back in business again. The shed is home to 144 locos - 18 wag-6s and 126 wag-5s. It was very sad to see the way the WAG-6s (called HP by the staff) were being treated. Three of them were lying in the open and were being cannibalized - literally being eaten alive. Parts were being removed to keep other locos in service. The drivers / dispatchers were very reluctant to operate the locos on the mainline due to frequent breakdowns due to lack of proper maintenance. We learnt that the loco was only dispatched if no other locos (WAG5s) were available. We saw a WAG-6 consist pass by the shed with a Nalco load. This was the only sighting we had on the entire trip of a WAG-6 in action. Another WAG 6 was shunting dead WAG5s within the shed area.A really sad plight for a really elegant loco. After taking some pictures within the shed we moved to a foot over bridge next to the shed and this gave a really good view over the mainline as well as yards around the shed. After clicking a few more pictures we moved onto what was known as the exchange yard. Here fully loaded ore trains come in from the Bailidala mines using the KK line. The triple headed WAG5s are cut off and then the WDS6 shunters take over. The rake is taken to the tippler yard of the VSKP Port Trust. We got on to one of the WDS6 shunters heading to the tippler. A short ten minute ride got us into the tippler yard but unfortunately the sun had set by now and photography became a problem. We were confronted by the CISF security who asked us to leave the yard as the railway permit was not valid and we should have had a Port Trust permit!!!. We had a quick look at the tippler - it basically took grip on an ore wagon and turned it upside down, the ore would then fall into a chute below the tippler and get carried away on a conveyor to the port for loading onto ships. The empty wagon would then get pushed by gravity to an "empties" yard behind the tippler. We headed back to our hotel - very very tired but thoroughly satisfied with our day.
Day three - 5th march 2004.
The day began at 8am. We were to meet the traffic inspector from the DRM office at the Exchange yard 'J' cabin.These are the same rakes which are emptied at the tippler yard and are then assembled again to head back to the Balidala mines over the 445 km long KK line. Departure was at 845 am so we had time to kill which we spent taking some shots in this yard. There were 2 WAG6 consists in the yard trip shed. The drivers and the TI again confirmed that the WAG6s would be used only in a situation when the WAG5 were not available. We were quite disappointed as we wanted to footplate a WAG6 consist instead of WAG5s. Departure was at 9 am on a triple headed WAG5. On the KK line, WAG5s are triple headed and WAG6s are run double headed. Triple WAG5s and double WAG6s provide the same power - 12000 HP. The crew was very friendly and answered all of Bharat's queries which varied from power rating to signaling to frequency. A total of 34 trains are run daily - 17 each way. We soon reached Kottavalassa from where the track turned left from the Howrah mainline. The KKline has a dedicated track which runs next to the Howrah mainline underlining the fact how important this line is to IR. After an hour of running we hit the ghat section. The scenery was breathtaking and we could not help marveling at the construction of this line. There were numerous tunnels and deep gorges were spanned by high bridges. One curve would lead to another and many a time we could see the guard van of our 873mtrs long train on the opposite hill!!! There were a lot of crossings with downhill freights headed back to VSKP. I really cannot describe in words what we saw so I will let the pictures I uploaded on IRFCA do the talking. I wanted to take some trackside pictures so it was decided that we would get off at a point after Chimripalli station. This would be the same spot in which the famous KK line "waterfall "photograph which appears in IR calendars, was taken. The TI got off at Chimripalli station so he could get onto the next load coming up the line and then pick us up from the "waterfall". We then got off the train at the waterfall bridge and the train "posed" for us on the bridge while we took a couple of shots!!!!. The train left us on this spot at around 1210 pm. What happened next was an absolute nightmare. A downhill load came soon after and then for nearly three hours there was no movement. We learnt from a passing track gang man that there was an " electrical maintenance block " and thus there was no traffic.After a gap of nearly three hours there was another downhill train movement followed by 4-5 more movements and the 1VKP passenger. Clearly, preference was being given to downhill traffic. Finally, after a wait of 6 hours, and with the light disappearing fast, we decided to walk to the next station - Borra Ghualu - which was nearly 6 km away. I really dreaded this as I would have to lug my heavy camera equipment over ballasted track. Anyone who has walked on ballasted track will know how painful it can be after a while. As we crossed the first tunnel we heard the welcome sound of a WAG5 horn blast! Saved by the bell - so to speak!!!! We were scared that the TI not finding us at the designated spot would reaccelerate the train and would not then be able to slow down to pick us up further down the track. So, Bharat ran for his life, down the tunnel, towards the train and managed to reach it before it had managed to pick up speed. The train then picked me up further down the track! We decide to break journey at the next station - Borra Ghuala. There was a railway rest house and this provided a nice clean accommodation for the night. It overlooked the tracks and station and was by far the best rail fan spot I have ever come across. We had the most satisfying dinner (we hadn't eaten the whole day) of egg curry, sambar and rice. We watched some more trains pass by and thus ended one of the most memorable rail fanning days I have ever had.
Day Four - 6th March 2004
We woke up early at 5 am. The plan was to take some photographs in the area and then get on to the first train going up after 8am. We took some pictures near the station and then walked 20 minutes to a nice scenic bridge location. A train soon passed by and we took a nice video and pictures which I have uploaded on the IRFCA site. We walked back to the station and after having breakfast waited for a train which soon arrived. We decided to ride in the Guard Van instead of the loco. What a mistake that turned out to be. There are a lot of jerks one gets when the train starts, stops and even when running at speed. The jerks have to be experienced to understand how severe they can be. The first jerk we got was as soon as the train had started and nearly knocked my tripod and video camera off the guard van. I got a severe bruise on my thigh and later in the ride bharat got a cut on his arm. Anyhow, we soon figured out that the jerk is preceded by the sound of the couplers tightening on the whole rake. This gave us about 3-4 seconds to brace for impact!! The train went thru some really gorgeous scenery before the ghat section ended at Araku.The ghats gave way to some really barren but beautiful landscapes. The train was negotiating some really long curves and I took some pictures from the guard van. The long train making its way thru the scenery made for some really nice pictures - take a look at the the uploads section.The ride lasted for 3.5 hrs and we were glad to get off at Koraput after our special KK Line massage on the guard van. My advice to all people who ever visit the KK line - never ride on the guard van!!! Our wait at Koraput was for four hours to catch the Koraput - Bhubaneshwar Hirakhand Express thru the Koraput Rayagada (KR line) line which also passes thru lovely scenery. While waiting we footplated a WDM3 which had to turn around on the triangle formed by the bypass of the KR-KK line. Departure was on time at 1720 hrs and the loco was a WDM2. I stood on the entire stretch outside the cabin, right next to the door on the driver's side. The scenery was breathtaking again.We passed the ghat section after sundown but the light was provided by a full moon. The entire landscape bathed in moonlight provided an unforgettable experience for Bharat and me. The KR line glides thru the ghats section but never blasting thru it, like its counterpart, the KK line does. We reached Rayagada at about 10pm and the shifted to the under guards cabin where we rested our tired bodies and feet. Viziangram was reached at midnight and from here we hired a taxi to VSKP.
Day five - 7th march 2004
The last day of our rail fan trip dawned at 6am for us. We headed to the tippler yard road over bridge to get some long shots and then to the station to take a look. We visited the trip shed and took some pictures here as well. Our flight was at 1120am so we decided to kill more time at the Maripellam yard foot over bridge. There were some shunting movements and some traffic on the KK line. After spending an hour or so here we headed for the airport for our flight to HYD. After arriving at HYD we again went to Santnagar
to catch some more of the DG4s. We met up with a friendly crew who got us on to the cab and we spent some time shunting up and down the yard in the DG4. I must say the DG4 is a fantastic loco with a very smooth ride quality, excellent braking, a very comfortable cab and excellent starting tractive force and acceleration. After a while, the heat got to us and our bodies were giving up on us. We decided to catch the Chennai express departure on the necklace road curve. After doing that we headed to Secunderabad station where we quietly watch the action till it was time for our flight.
A thoroughly satisfying and very very tiring rail fan trip thus came to an end
Would I do it again - ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!